I was going to write a blog post about how to improve your business website. But I got distracted and couldn’t think of anything else to write beyond the catchy title. Lets face it, there are so many business websites out there that are rubbish! There I said it, your website probably isn’t all that great and you’ve been hanging on to it like some sort of comfort blanket….
So there you go, bit of a short blog post this week. So, I’ve decided I’m going to fill the rest of the page with something other than Web Design and SEO. Instead I’d like to talk about cars. I know it’s a bit of a departure, but a change is as good as a break as they say, and besides I’m considering getting myself a new car. So it seems like a great idea…
When it comes to deciding if it’s time to buy a new car or not, there’s a few things to consider; A) Does the old car still work? B) Does it still meet your requirements? C) Have you got the money to invest in a new one?
So let’s answer those questions…
A) Does the old car still work?
If it does and there’s been no issues, it can be difficult to let go and accept that you may need a new one.
B) Does it still meet your requirements?
Things change over time, what you originally needed it for, may not be the same thing you need it for today.
C) Have you got the money to invest in a new one?
Simple answer really, yes I do or no I don’t!
And well, that’s about all I can think to talk about car wise… So back to Business Websites I guess
Besides, Marketing Signals aren’t branching out and selling used cars on the side (would have been useful if we were), I suppose I’d better write something about Web Design and SEO after all. Or else this would be a very short blog post from me this month…
Right then, take a look back at those questions again and this time, imagine we’re talking about YOUR website, it doesn’t matter if that’s a personal website for a hobby that you’re trying to turn into a business, or whether it’s your company website.
You see, much like cars, websites quickly become out-dated and can begin to look old and tired very quickly. Much like the VW Camper van above. Even with statistics suggesting that Mobile and Tablet usage was on the way up in the past few years. It took a potential Google Algorithm Penalty to give everybody a kick up their virtual backsides in order to re-look at their websites and consider whether it was giving their visitors the best possible experience, when they were using Mobile and Tablet devices to access and view the website.
For many people, an out-dated and/or poorly designed website will be their first (and likely last) impression of your business. So you need to make sure you get it right first time! Unless you’re a well-known and well respected business, chances are you’re going to be relying on Google for the majority of your traffic, so they pick you out of the other 10 or so search results. So just as quickly as they arrived on your website, they can be gone again…
What this means is that you need to ensure that visitors to your website are able to trust what they see in front of them within the first few seconds or arriving. If your website doesn’t instil enough confidence in them to trust your website and your business – within those first few seconds of arriving on your website – you could potentially be losing many thousands of pounds/dollars (etc). Because people decide to look elsewhere and buy from a competitors nice, glossy new looking website.
Here are a 5 things you should be aware of and try and avoid…
1. Your website doesn’t work very well on Mobile or Tablet
Look, just because your website passes the Google Mobile Friendly test, doesn’t mean you should be ready to give yourself a pat on the back… Far from it!
I’ve seen more than a few websites where the website appeared to work well on Mobile, according to Google. But then found that elements such as the menu were unusable, because they were too long with many of the options out of view, with no way to scroll down and click on them. Or there would be a pop-up which was so large, I couldn’t actually click on the X (close) button and the only way to get it to go was to give my email address.
Not a great first experience!! “Thanks for visiting, but we need an email address before you can have a look around!”. The problem is with this it goes one of two ways. They either get a high bounce rate on mobile or a lot of junk email addresses when people realise they can type just about anything in the box…
A Comscore report suggests that Mobile and Tablet traffic had already overtaken Laptop and Desktop traffic (in the US) by March 2015.
Why not test your website to see what Google thinks – https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
2. Your website Branding isn’t consistent
I’ve seen more than a few websites which mix various elements and at times, such as an e-commerce or business website that will either self-host their blog on blog.domain.com for instance and use a completely different theme/template so it almost looks like the visitor has arrived at another website. Come on, it isn’t going to be that difficult to try and match up your website and blog theme! It looks clunky and bolted on.
Worst still, is when companies host their blogs on WordPress.com, Blogger.com or even Tumblr.com. The whole reason in building a blog, gaining an audience and increasing social shares and links to your blog, is because you’re attempting to build your domain authority and trust in Google.
So when you host the blog on another website domain, you’re allowing that domain to take all the glory! You’re also sending your visitors away from your main website, with no saying they will ever make it back again… Is it worth it?
3. Your website is beginning to show its age… Literally!
How many times have you visited a website and noticed the copyright notice in the footer showing the wrong year? It may just be me who looks at these things, but I’m sure I’m not the only one!
Go and have a look at your own website, don’t worry, I’ll be waiting here for you when you get back…
Did it say the current year? Or did it say 2015, 2014 or even earlier? Not only does this shout out to people that your website doesn’t get updated very often. It also shows that you’ve had the same old website for a few years and not bothered to update it or replace it. So can the information on your website be trusted? Who knows, maybe all of these websites with out of date copyright notices have been abandoned or the owners aren’t doing so well and don’t have the money to replace it.
A simple little trick to make it appear to your visitors that your website is up to date is to add the current year to the bottom of the website. But who can be bothered checking and updating that every 12 months? Most people have better things to do at Midnight on 31st December every year…
Instead, add one of the following into your footer.php or similar file (I should add, this will only work if your website is built on PHP);
If you only want to show the basics;
© 2016 ACME Business Inc. | All Rights Reserved
Use the code below…
© <?php echo date(“Y”) ?> ACME Business Inc. | All Rights Reserved
If you want to show a from date too;
© 2006 – 2016 ACME Business Inc. | All Rights Reserved
Then use the code below…
© 2006 – <?php echo date(“Y”) ?> ACME Business Inc. | All Rights Reserved
Of course it’s easy enough to mix and play around with the above code to show and display whatever you like. It doesn’t have to be as I’ve shown above.
4. Your website loads sloooowwwwly… Has it loaded yet?
The issues with website speed are like a re-run of what happened 25+ years ago when memory in computers became cheaper and code became bloated. Programmers were no longer constrained by limited memory, and could write ever bigger programs without worrying about the implications of their code not being the greatest.
It’s almost the same thing happening all over again with broadband speeds getting ever faster and more and more people getting access to these “super high” speed increases as time goes on. Evidently, when a lot of website owners sit using their “Super-Fast Broadband” at home, they forget that not everybody has access to these types of speeds, nor will they all have new computers which are not bloated by spyware and malware slowing down their computer speeds ever more.
The problem could be just about anything, but one very common culprit is image sizes, because they’re often uploaded straight from a digital camera without being re-sized or altered. These often have dimension as large as 5000px, when the average width of a website is only around 1000-1500px. So as you can imagine, the image is a lot larger than most people will ever realistically see. I guess what many people do not realise is that the dimensions of the image also play a large part is the actual file size of the image. A re-sized image could be down to a few hundred kb’s, where as an unaltered image could be as much as 2 or 3mb or more (1000kb / kilobyte = 1mb / megabyte)
Have a look here and see how your website compares – http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/#!/
5. A nice website needs more than just a glossy paint job…
Over the years, I’ve seen more than a few websites which look great on first inspection, but then when I’ve dug a little deeper, the cracks have begun to appear.
You need to ensure that all sections of your website work as they should on all devices. What may work well on your laptop, may not work so well on mobile or tablet, so you should be aware of these things as I pointed out in point 1 about the rise in Mobile and Tablet usage.
Another problem with many websites is broken links. It can become all too easy to remove pages or update the urls, but forget to ensure that all of the pages on your own website that point to the old version of a url are also updated. Ideally you should keep tabs on these things, but as anybody with a website with more than a couple of dozen pages knows. It can quickly become very time consuming to do manually. If you have WordPress, there are plugins available that can do this for you, and most likely for any other CMS that you may be using for you website. You should also ensure that your website is verified in Google Webmaster Tools (now known as Search Console) as Google will tell you if they come across any broken links and other issues.
The other things that many people tend to ignore are the Meta elements such as the Page Title, the Meta Descriptions and the H1 headings. Since visitors do not see these elements when viewing the website, it often becomes all too easy for website owners to dismiss these elements as non-essential and something I’ll look at sorting later. But if you ever plan to get any meaningful traffic from Google, this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Yes, it can be boring editing these things, but the potential benefits from doing so make it all the more worthwhile.
Even if you’re not a local business, you may also have your business address on your website, but have you added the Schema.org markup? At the very least, you should have your address and phone number wrapped in the schema markup as this will help Google (and other search engines) to understand that this isn’t just some text on the page, it’s actually your NAP (Name, Address Phone number) data.
6. Bonus Reason – Face it! Your website just doesn’t look professional enough!
You could sort some or all of these issues and still be left wondering why your website isn’t selling itself to your target audience. Much like car design (I promise this is the last time I mention cars) and other types of design such as fashion and interior design. Designs change greatly over time.
It could well be the case that your website was a great example of web design but that was back in 2006! Or maybe you built the website yourself or a friend of a friend who knew somebody who’d have a go on the cheap. 10 years ago, let’s face it, the majority of websites looked rubbish! So it was very easy for somebody with little experience to put together a half way decent website.
One of the other issues is that maybe you had the website made 5+ years ago and you spent a lot of money on it. It had all the latest bells and whistles with some great (at the time) functionality which wowed your visitors. The problem is, your web host updated the software which your CMS runs on (PHP and MySQL) and the snazzy functionality stopped working and you now see an error code on your website. You see the issue is, if your website is never looked after and maintained, there is the potential for these technologies to break your website which unfortunately, isn’t something that any of us can do much about, so we all have to keep pace with the changes.
At some point, as much as you may love your own website and you may remember that there was a time when visitors commented on how nice they thought it was. Those comments will eventually become few and far between. First impressions count for so much online, it’s the only thing that we can use to differentiate ourselves from competitors and to convey an image of our businesses being grander than what they are.
There is no reason why a great looking website which has been professionally designed couldn’t give the impression that your business is bigger and better than competitors with many dozens, if not hundreds more staff. I’ve read about online e-commerce stores that are run by one or two people, turning over hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars a month dropping shipping. My guess is 99% of their customers will be oblivious to this, simply because they have a professional looking website which gives the impression that the website, let alone the rest of the business has been built and maintained by an entire IT department.The Internet is the the only place where a small business trucked away on a backstreet, or run from a garage or bedroom, can compete with business many tens, if not hundreds the size with huge plush offices and not be judged any differently by customers.
If you want to be the next Edith Macefield, or maybe you just have some questions about your own website that you would like some help with. Whether you’re looking to replace an ageing website or looking for your first website online for your business. We’ll talk you through all of the options available to you, as well as take a look at your existing website if you have one and give you some helpful advice on ways to improve your website and your marketing.